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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

South Asian Author Challenge

When you were in elementary school, do you remember the reading challenges that would reward you for reading from a set list of books? Those were awesome right? I remember being given certificates, ribbons, medals, and even a special assembly once. Being rewarded for being a voracious reader was kind of cool, even if it kept you up late at night and your mom got mad at you for reading at the dinner table. "I gotta finish all these books Mom, there's a medal coming!"

Well maybe like me you're a little past middle school, so what happens when there's nobody to give you shiny metal (or plastic) for reading? Where's the motivation? As we all know, the motivation to read should intrinsic; reading expands your mind and makes you stand out from your non-reading friends, I'm convinced of it. Don't believe Glee's Sue Sylvester's declaration in a recent commercial, "Why should children be burdened by the tyranny of reading? Words are hard!" The only hard thing about reading is not being able to read fast enough to get through everything you want.

In the book blogosphere, there are quite a few reading challenges and many of them are themed. Take this one for example, the South Asian Author Challenge hosted by Swapna Krishna. The challenge is to commit to reading three, five, seven, or ten books about or by a South Asian author during this calendar year. Which countries might fall in that categorization? India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Next year that list will be expanded to include Bhutan, Maldives, and Nepal.

Swapna is a very prolific book blogger and is also highly organized so she's got challenge info, sign ups, author lists, and her own reviews all up at the challenge main page. As 2010 is already winding down, there's a 2011 Challenge being put together. So no complaining about not having enough time to jump on board. If you start now you can even get a head start. Then next year we'll see about getting some medals around neck...if you deserve them.

Here's a fun and intimidating tidbit: Swapna has read 330 books this year already. As she details in her post, that's 116,598 pages. I have entire groups of friends who haven't read that many books in their lives combined. And if that sounds like a lot, last year she breezed through 450 books! When you get the chance, go thank Swapna for putting such a great challenge together.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yiyun Li

How'd you like to be a MacArthur Genius? What're the qualifications? I dunno, it's all very secret and anonymous. Each year, the MacArthur Fellowship awards twenty to forty people "who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." The winners receive $500,000 and a lot of congratulatory phone calls. Proving how much I don't know about the world, the only name I recognize from the past few years' winners is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2008).

This year there's a Chinese American writer on the list, Yiyun Li, and she's already been having a banner year as she was named one of The New Yorker's 20 under 40 a few months ago. I read her story, The Science of Flight, but haven't read any of her other stuff yet. I'm pretty sure the best place to start is with A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which was her debut book of short stories. Li immigrated from China in 1996 and received her MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa, and a fiction MFA from the Iowa Writers' Worskshop. She's now a professor at UC Davis and it must be amazing to be her student. Maybe I'll try to crash a class. Wanna join?

It looks like Li's currently on tour for her new book, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and you can check her site for all the tour dates and locations.
"Li's stories are typically set in her native China and she wields a darkness and weightiness of tone that she has used to carve out a place for herself among the broader community of first generation immigrant writers."
-The Millions, "2010's Literary Geniuses"-

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

"Cha, founded in 2007, a decade after the handover, is the first Hong Kong-based English online literary journal; it is dedicated to publishing quality poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, reviews and photography, and art. Cha has a strong focus on Asian-themed creative work and work done by Asian writers and artists. It also publishes established and emerging writers/artists from around the world."
Cha has a very active blog located at asiancha.blogspot.com and I've been subscribing for quite awhile as they have proven to be a great resource for finding other Asian authors, illustrators, and literary sites. Here's an interview with founding co-editor Tammy Ho Lai-Ming from Lantern Review Blog, and a post about the etymology of the "Cha" name.

On the right side of their page are image links to past issues, with each issue showcasing a different header image. Kinda cool. Here are their submission guidelines. They are currently accepting submissions for Issue #13, to be published February 2011.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

API/A Love Letter Project

If you need to know what's going on in the Asian American community, you need to be reading Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man. Oh you already know about Angry Asian Man? Of course you do. Well Phil just posted this link to the API/A Love Letter Project, which, aside from having a stunning blog design is a really interesting idea.
"The premise behind the API/A Love Letter Project is reclaiming a sense of optimism and self/communal progression for the Asian/American community. What the API/A Love Letter Project is is a collection of essays and letters written by members of the community—whether academic or not—poeticizing their hopes and dreams for the future of the social circles they come from."
-API/A Love Letter Project's About page-
The site started in July and is irregularly updated but I get pretty excited when a new post pops up in my Reader.  Maybe you have a love letter to share? I'm gonna try to write one up I think, once I figure out who exactly my community is... Maybe I should start by checking out API/A Love Letter Project's Facebook too!
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